Real Estate Market

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Featured Listing

For Sale: $329,900

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Highlands County Market Trends

Separating Fact from Fiction in Home Appraisals

An appraisal is an important and necessary part of the home-selling process. However, many homeowners don’t really understand how it works and what rights they have. They just know it can impact the selling price of their home. It’s essential that you know certain facts about this process to ensure you get the best price for your property.

What Counts in an Appraisal

Homeowners often work hard to enhance their home’s appeal for buyers, hoping it will bring a higher price with new features and important updates. Then, they are disappointed because the appraisal didn’t reflect that hard work.

An appraiser looks at other homes in the area that are nearly the same size and with similar features to find comparable pricing. These are homes that have recently sold, so they know what buyers are willing to pay. They make adjustments based on the location of the property, the square footage and the condition of the home. Some upgrades will weigh in on the final value while others will not improve it or may even lower the value if they are too strange or different from other homes.

Who the Appraiser Works For

Many homeowners think the appraiser’s view is eschewed in favor of the buyer because they pay for the appraisal. However, the appraiser actually works for the lender to ensure the amount the buyer is paying is actually at or below the value of the house. The lender wants to be sure they are making a solid investment by lending the money to the buyer for the home.

An appraiser is unbiased so you don’t have to worry that the numbers will be altered in favor of the buyer. In fact, it’s illegal for the buyer or anyone else to attempt to coerce the appraiser into changing the numbers.

Some Amenities are Worth More

When you upgrade your home, look for what other homes have in them. This tells you what a typical buyer looking to purchase in this neighborhood is interested in. Those amenities are the ones that will add the most value to your home. Other features won’t give you the bang for the buck that you’re looking for.

Don’t worry about the appraisal if you’ve worked with an agent to help you price the house. If you have any questions, you’re real estate agent should be able to answer them for you or find someone with the answers.

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine the value of your home.  

Image courtesy Chris Potter/


Tips to Follow If You Want to Buy a Beach Home

The dream for many is not just homeownership, but the ability to buy a vacation home near a quiet beach at their favorite vacation spot. While owning a second home can sound like the perfect getaway, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. To make this process smooth and the results what you want them to be, follow these tips.

1. Start with a Budget

Know how much you can afford before you start looking for a beach home. A lot of buyers will convince themselves to take on a second mortgage they can’t really afford. Don’t forget the costs of maintaining this property, especially from a distance.

2. Don’t Count on Rental Income

A lot of buyers looking at vacation homes along the beach expect to rent it out for much of the year to offset the cost of ownership. While this can make life easier for you, make sure you can afford it if you are unable to rent the property out.

3. Think about the Location

While many buyers focus on the location of the home along the beach or the stunning views, they forget about the neighborhood. Consider who your neighbors will be, what the neighborhood is like and any zoning laws that might apply. For instance, you may be unable to rent your property because the local laws forbid any rentals in the area.

4. Think about the Weather

Many beaches are prone to hurricanes and other storms that can damage your home. Consider previous storm history in the area so you know what you’re getting into. Think about how often it rains versus the amount of sunny weather you will see as well as average temperatures and other things you cannot control. Depending on the weather in the area, you may need to purchase special insurance to cover the chance of damage.

5. Get a Specialized Home Inspector

Make sure you hire someone to do the home inspection who is familiar with beach homes. They will be able recognize old damage and tell you of any problems you may be inheriting.

Buying a beach home could be the ticket to more vacations for you and your family. Just follow these tips so you don’t regret your purchase.

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.

Image courtesy of suezword5/

Best Smart Home Gadgets for Your Home

Thanks to modern technology, you can do so much more with your home gadgets, even controlling them when you are at work or elsewhere. Tech devices continue to advance to enhance the quality of life or to make your home more comfortable, enjoyable or functional. Here are some home gadgets to consider.

Security Cameras

The latest security devices make it easy to view your home even when you’re away. You can easily connect to the internet to monitor your home or even check up on a babysitter. Some of these systems send alerts in an email or text message so that you can quickly log in and make sure everything is okay.

Garage Door Opener

The Chamberlain MyQ opener makes it easy to open and close your garage door. All you have to do is tap on the display screen on your device and the door will adjust. There are plans to include sensors which will be able to tell when you have parked and automatically shut the garage door with no input from you.

Door Lock

KwikSet, the king of home door locks, has developed an electronic lock that actually uses your keys to unlock a house door. You just have to put in a two digit code to prevent access by burglars. An alarm will sound if someone tries to get in without a key or passcode.


Now you can even do your cooking when you aren’t home, thanks to Belkin’s WEMO Smart Slow Cooker. You use your smartphone to adjust the cook time, temperature or to send a reminder about what you have cooking.


Sleep Number has been famous for creating a customized sleeping environment by allowing a person to select a number for firmness. Now the Sleep Number IT bed tracks heart rate and other physical factors to help improve sleep. It also connects to thermostats and other smart home and health apps for a completely custom sleep environment.

These are just a few of the devices already on the market that utilize technology to improve life at home. As new tech gadgets are released, you’ll want to consider how they enhance the quality of life or even improve the selling price of your home

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine the value of your home.  

Image courtesy 27707/

Client Testimonials

Listened to Our Concerns

I loved that fact that you returned my calls promptly, you always let me know when you would be unavailable. You were not pushy or too aggressive. We always felt you had our best interests at heart. You listened and you did a great job!”

 Kathryn Gavin, Searing, FL

Proactive and Accommodating

We decided at the last minute to look at lake houses in the Lake Placid area. The weekend we had available would be the only time we could be in Lake Placid for several months. Our Local RE/MAX Realtor made several phone calls to Lake Placid/Sebring Realtors hoping to find one to help us and you were the only one who said yes without hesitation! You showed us several homes and while none worked out, you developed such a keen sense of what we needed that we later purchased a home sight unseen. We were very pleased with your service and would definitely use you again as well as refer you to others in the future. In fact we told our local realtor that you should be her referral source for the Lake Placid/Sebring area.”
Joe & Mary Lawrence, Wellington, FL

Quick Results

Maureen - wonderful job! I had total confidence in you and knew you would be honest and specific with me regarding questions, concerns, protocol, etc. Thanks for helping me sell the house so quickly!!”

Pam Maxwell-Burnham, Avon Park, FL



For the uninformed, blogging is hitting the Internet today and making a real impact!

What is a blog? An easy explanation of this is a WEB LOG or a journal on the web. It’s a place where folks can “voice” their thoughts, share ideas, or comment on those of others. 

Highlands County Florida now has such a blog where new items of interest will be posted and comments can be made. Topics range from those related to real estate and community highlights to local events of interest or anything personal or business related that might be perceived as worthwhile information for public knowledge, discussion and/or use. 

It’s even possible to subscribe to a blog of interest and receive text updates on your iPod! Check out the latest updates for the Highlands County Real Estate Blog:   

Thanks for reading my newsletter, and please feel free to forward this email in it's entirety to anyone you feel would benefit from it.    

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Contact Information

Photo of Maureen Cool, CRS, CIPS, RSPS Real Estate
Maureen Cool, CRS, CIPS, RSPS
RE/MAX Realty Plus
809 US 27 South
Sebring FL 33870
Toll Free: 1 888 243-COOL (2665)
Fax: 863-385-5897

Maureen Cool * RE/MAX Realty Plus
809 US 27 South, Sebring, Florida 33870
Toll Free:  1-888-243-COOL (2665)
Office: 863-385-0077 X215
Direct: 863-873-7243
Fax: 863-385-5897



Maureen Cool of RE/MAX Realty Plus offers real estate services to buyers, sellers, relocation's in the Highlands County real estate area.

Including Polk County, Hardee County, Okeechobee County, Desota County and Glades County.

Whether you are looking for luxury, investment, second home, commercial, bank owned, foreclosures properties Maureen Cool and The Cool Team are your real estate professionals for the entire Central Florida area.

Maureen Cool is your Luxury Home Expert in Highlands County. 
She can assist you with your Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid real estate needs. 



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